Saturday, May 24, 2008

Low-Cost Resume Revisions

There may be times when you offer an "entry-level" resume development product to clients -- for example, a low-cost revision of the client's existing resume. This service might be priced from $59-$149 (of course, your fees will vary with how seasoned of a resume professional you are!!) and include revamping the client's document with a minimum amount of new content.

This service might be appropriate for the client whose resume needs some help, but not a complete overhaul. It might also be appropriate for the client who cannot afford your typical service offerings (including full resume revision and accompanying cover letter). Or it might be a service that you offer specifically to job seekers participating in a job fair in an effort to develop immediate business and generate a return on the time and money invested in participating in the career fair. (For example, you might advertise this Resume Revamp service for the 2 weeks leading up to a major career fair in your area, at a special $99 price, plus a handout on 'Getting the Most Out of Job Fairs.')

So what should the client expect to get for this low-cost investment? Managing his or her expectations is a critical part of the service delivery process. A client who is expecting the "full treatment" while paying bargain-basement rates will be disappointed, no matter how great the finished product is. So outlining the scope of services you will provide will be critical.

This can include defining such things as:
  • Up to 'x' amount of time (for example: one hour) on resume research, draft development, and design. Package does not include questionnaire or client consultation beyond initial conversation. Resume revision will be based upon content provided in client's original resume.
  • Package includes one revision to incorporate client's changes/modifications (up to 'x' amount of time). Additional drafts or consultation time beyond that will be charged at 'x' rate.
  • Resume provided in electronic format (Microsoft Word), with additional formats or hard-copy laserprints and/or CD provided at an additional cost (specify the cost in the quote). Cover letter development or revision provided at an additional cost.
You will also want to clarify that this service is not appropriate for career changes, adding in any new positions, or significantly changing the content of the existing resume. Client must have an existing resume (updated through current position) in order to order this service.

A question I'm often asked by resume writers is how different the resume revision should be from the original. Here are a few guidelines:
  • At a minimum, you should use a different font and layout than the original resume. Sometimes this is an easy fix -- particularly if the original resume was developed in a Microsoft Word template.
  • Completely rewrite the top 1/3 of the resume. The Qualifications Profile is the area where most clients struggle. Spending 75% of your efforts on creating an outstanding opening to the resume will make a huge difference in results for most clients.
  • Use a different layout for the company descriptions than what the client originally provided. If the client's resume uses a series of bullets, change to a more paragraph-oriented style. Incorporate in design elements, white space, and expert formatting techniques to make the resume more "professional" in appearance.
  • Make sure you change 20-25% of the client's wording -- with special emphasis on punching up the Accomplishments. If you don't want to take the time to ask the client the questions needed to quantify more accomplishments, include the question in the resume itself for the client to answer.
For example, the client's original resume might have this statement:
"Negotiated with vendor to decrease annual costs of packaging materials by 40%."

You might rewrite this to be:
"Saved company [$$] by negotiating with key vendor to reduce annual packaging material costs by 40 percent."

Finally, the key to successful client expectations management is outlining the changes in the e-mail to the client with the draft delivery. Here you want to manage the client's expectations that they're getting your *best* work for the price they paid -- but leaving the door open to upgrading them to a higher level of service later.

For example, you might write:

Dear (Client):

Thanks for the opportunity to work with you to revise your resume within the scope of our
entry-level Resume Revamp package. As promised, I have incorporated in a couple of key modifications which should result in an immediate improvement in how your resume is received by prospective hiring managers. These include:
  • (Developing / Modifying / Improving) the Qualifications Profile on your resume to create a dynamic first impression for the reader. The top 1/3 of the resume is key to attracting the attention of the hiring manager, and the rest of the resume is used to provide information to support the qualifications we spotlight in this key section.
  • Highlighting the value you offer to a prospective employer by quantifying key accomplishments in your work history, including how you've saved your previous employers money, made them money, or improved the workplace by your contributions. I've outlined a couple of key areas where you can provide additional information to better quantify your impact on the organization.
  • Using effective design strategies to create a resume that can easily be scanned to find key information. This format is effective for both traditional (printed) use of the resume as well as sending your resume as an attachment in Microsoft Word format. (Please keep in mind, however, that we recommend an ASCII text format if you are going to be using your new resume in postings on the major Internet job boards. You can order this format as an additional service.)
The resume package you purchased is not a complete overhaul of your resume, so you will find that I have kept the majority of your original content. I am confident that your revised resume will increase the response you receive -- but keep in mind that we do offer more comprehensive writing services to further enhance your qualifications and incorporate in more targeted keywords and accomplishments. We can also re-target your resume to position you to pursue different career fields, and provide template and customized cover letters to support your job search. If you are interested in more information about any of these additional services, please let me know.

Of course, a key part of the resume development process is collaborating to finalize your new document. Please make sure that everything on the resume is accurate (including the spelling of your name, your address, phone number, e-mail address, dates of employment, etc.). Also, please make sure that I'm describing you accurately, as we want to position you as a great candidate, but I don't want to overstate or overemphasize any areas you're not comfortable with. You may show your drafts to others, if you wish, but be sure you have spoken to everyone before you contact me with your changes or approval since your contract provides for one revision.

I look forward to hearing back from you in the next 24-48 hours to finalize your documents. If I don't hear from you in that timeframe, I will assume that you are happy with your new resume and will close out the project.

Thank you!

(Your Name)

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